OOH Is Instagram Worthy: Here’s Why

It’s safe to say that social media has changed the way we live our lives. It’s how we interact with people, buy things, entertain ourselves, and share our lives with others. Currently, there are roughly 3.5 billion social media users worldwide, with the average user spending 3 hours per day on various social apps. As social media continues to become more seamless, easy to use, and addicting, businesses find themselves with endless opportunities to reach consumers through social media marketing. Roughly 73% of marketers believe that their efforts through social media marketing have been somewhat or very effective for their business. However, now social media is becoming so popular and oversaturated with ads, advertisers are looking to do more than just engage with consumers online – they’re looking to shock them creatively and entice them organically. 

Brands are now encouraging social media interaction through Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising with things like, ‘instagrammable billboards’ and Digital OOH signs. The campaigns become art installations that represent an advertisement rather than blatant advertising itself. They often encourage passersby to stop, stare, engage with, and take pictures of, whatever the campaign displays, which usually ends in social media sharing. The consumer then becomes the vehicle through which the advertisement is being distributed and promoted, essentially making the consumer the ambassador of the brand. OOH advertising as a social media tool has become quite the trend lately and has proven to be cost-effective and worthwhile for advertisers to invest in. 

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the dynamic duo that OOH and social media have created and some examples of some amazing OOH campaigns that went viral on social media.

The Instagrammable Billboard

This is a term ‘recently coined with the reference to billboards that appeal to people who feel compelled to share these images on social media’. Advertisers have come to realize that consumers’ attention is never focused on one source of media at a time, people are constantly moving across different forms of media. This allows for an opportunity to create work that crosses over multiple mediums and different platforms, in order to create the ultimate user experience. The OOH medium has become somewhat of a social channel through which advertisers not only can gain views from, but also active engagement.

An image of Ryan Reynolds Instagram post to create excitement about the new release of his movie Deadpool.

To create excitement about the new superhero film, Deadpool, 20th Century Fox made a single gag billboard that was created and released on Valentine’s Day that quickly became an internet sensation. The billboard portrayed Deadpool as a romantic love story with the Deadpool character positioned as if he was looking up at the billboard from down below while making a heart shape with his hands. The image was then posted on Instagram by Ryan Reynolds himself, the star, co-producer, and writer of the film with the caption, “In 32 days, let’s cuddle the shit out of each other. #Deadpool”. The Instagram post immediately went viral, thanks to Ryan’s 37.1 million followers, and helped to create an immense amount of hype around the upcoming release of the movie. This is just one of many examples of how OOH advertising, in tandem with social media, can send a very powerful and engaging message.

An image of a subway ad to commemorate David Bowie.

A couple of years back, Spotify released its ‘#DavidBowieIsHere’ OOH campaign to commemorate the late David Bowie. Spotify created subway-wall-sized images of Bowie-inspired art in the Broadway-Lafayette New York subway station, which included everything from fan-made submissions to pieces that were on display at his exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. With every art piece displayed, there was an accompanying Spotify code that, when scanned, would take the user to David Bowie’s music on Spotify. Besides the scannable code, passersby were encouraged to use the hashtag ‘#DavidBowieIsHere’ and to share the experience on social media platforms. The campaign was a massive success, not only reaching more than 50 million people across social channels, it also won the first Cannes Lions Media Brand of the Year. This is a perfect example of how social media users can become brand ambassadors by sharing their OOH experiences. More often than not, greater social media shares correlate directly with how beautiful, engaging, and creative the advertising is.

Being An Ad, Without Being An Ad

According to recent research conducted by Nielsen, 1 in 4 U.S. adults have posted a photo on Instagram after seeing an outdoor advertisement. Furthermore, OOH on Instagram is seen by 3 times as many people when compared to other forms of advertising. A large part of why OOH is so influential, is its ability to be engaging without bombarding people. More often than not, less is more. If the ad is creative, enticing, and eye-catching enough, consumers will do the work for you by promoting what they see through social media. OOH tools such as billboards, Digital OOH (DOOH) signage, wall murals, installations, aren’t intrusive or annoying. Instead, they allow people to come to them, allowing for a personal experience, one that the consumer has chosen to be a part of.

6 different images of Burberry's new monogram. It shows the monogram on a building, a massive teddy bear, a car, a tram, and beach umbrellas.

In anticipation for the release of Burberry’s new Peter Saville x Riccardo Tisci monogram, the luxury clothing and accessories brand took to OOH advertising for a big, bold reveal. Burberry took one of their flagship stores in Seoul, Korea, which in itself is already an architecturally iconic masterpiece, and wrapped the entire thing in the new monogram. But they didn’t stop there. In Hong Kong, cable cars were plastered with the new print. In Shanghai, Burberry placed a giant monogrammed bear for all to walk by and take pictures of. On Sunset Beach in New York, Burberry printed the new logo on all of the umbrellas across the beach. These are just a few examples of Burberry’s use of OOH for this campaign. It’s safe to say that the campaign was a huge success in bringing attention to the new trademark print as well as the brand itself. The OOH prints could be seen across all social media platforms, globally, gaining a high-level of engagement. Instead of being seen as advertisements, Burberry created art instalments out of their new logo, which were pleasing to the eye and a great way to gain exposure.

Follow the Lead of the New Generations

The Millennial Generation and Generation X are two groups that are very particular when it comes to accepting advertising. For the majority, they have shunned most traditional media channels and can easily identify when a brand is spamming them with false information. They’re also often irritated by pushy sales pitches and prefer organic, seamless advertising over any other. Millennials and Gen X consumers also dominate the social media world, with 90.4% of Millennials and 77.5% of Generation X active on social media, compared to 48.2% of Baby Boomers. The younger generations are well-versed in the art of social media, which is why they’re also quick to block out online advertising with ad blockers. The best way to reach these massive demographics is by creating organic advertising that they can then share and interact with online. This kind of advertising makes them feel like they’re taking part in an experience rather than endorsing a product.

The cannabis brand, Tweed, partnered with Cossette to create an OOH ad campaign to promote their new products and the brand itself. With help from multimedia artist, Trevor Wheatley, Tweed designed a series of outdoor art installations that featured large letters spelling out the word, “Hi.”. Each installation was adjusted to match the environment in which it was placed. At Field Trip Music Festival in Toronto, the installation acted as a meeting place for friends to find each other and take pictures with the piece while also complementing the acts onstage. Young people took to Instagram to post pictures of them in front of the installations, creating enormous engagement and hype around Tweed. Overall, the campaign helped Tweed reach the number 1 awareness position among cannabis brands in Canada.

A couple of summers ago, Churchill Square in downtown Edmonton was under renovation, with new and upgraded features being added. Instead of leaving the square under complete construction, the city decided to take the opportunity to set up 6 Instagrammable walls around the construction site. The six walls are bright, colourful, and display six words that the people of Edmonton chose that they believe, represent their city. Passersby were encouraged to come and take pictures in front of the beautiful walls and learn about the city’s plan for the future of Churchill Square. The people of Edmonton quickly took to Instagram to show off the colourful walls and to promote the city’s new project.

Wrap Up

Advertisers have started to integrate social media into their OOH ads and people are taking notice. Things like the ‘Instagrammable Billboard’, Instagram walls, and OOH art installations are not only enticing to consumers, but it allows them to be part of an experience. When done right, the experience that consumers have with your OOH advertisement will not only be remembered, but shared with others – allowing your brand to reach those that don’t even come in contact with your ad. We live in a time where the endorsement of any brand by word-of-mouth is extremely valuable and influential. One of the best ways to make this happen is by creating OOH advertising that can be easily shared online and enjoyed by consumers.  Ensuring that your audience is positively connected and engaged with your brand by posting pictures of your OOH campaign and sharing their memorable experience with their followers, will certainly do wonders for your company, allow you to potentially reach new target markets, and help gain a strong ROI.

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